Queenstown ice hockey stalwart bows out

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Queenstown ice hockey stalwart Simon Glass is passing the puck to the next generation.

The Southern Stampede captain hung up his boots when the team’s New Zealand national league season ended a few weeks ago.

But not before Glass racked up 100 games for the Queenstown-based team which he’s captained to two championships.

A former Ice Blacks captain, Glass, 31, was a founding member of the Stampede when the National League was formed eight years ago.

“I’ve had an extremely good run and clicked over 100 games at the [final] weekend, which is a fair few,” Glass says. “There’s only a handful in that bracket.

“I’ve been captain since the beginning. I took a season off midway through but then came back for the past four years.”

As director of business development at Cook Brothers Construction, however, Glass found mixing business with sport was getting harder.

“I travel every week with our business and I found it was hard to commit this year.

“I missed a few trainings and I always wanted to be 100 per cent committed.

“It’s been tough trying to fly back from various places around the country for training and you get diverted to Invercargill or your flight’s cancelled because of weather.

“I just feel I’ll be in a similar spot next year and I want to be all or nothing so I’ll hang my skates up.” 

Glass’s retirement ends – at least for now – three generations of his family’s contribution to NZ ice hockey.

Grandfather Ben Glass’ South Canterbury farm hosted the country’s first ice hockey tournament 76 years ago.

Ben, his son Graeme, and now Graeme’s son Simon have all captained Erewhon Cup-winning teams and former NZ Ice Hockey Federation president Graeme became a life member in 2009.

“For me, there have been a lot of highlights. Winning those first two years, especially the inaugural season, was a massive highlight.

“And just seeing the growth of the league, our team and its support.

“Watching the team, the Stampede brand, become what it’s become has been fantastic. It has a pretty big following all around the world now – people who have come and watched us over the years.”

Glass still intends playing the odd friendly and will be involved with the Stampede in some form, possibly coaching.

Seeing the next generation of Queenstown players come through is something Glass has enjoyed during his career of more than a decade.

“Callum Burns, Lachie Frear, along with Connor Harrison and the boys playing in Dunedin this season – they were really young when I first started,” Glass says.

“They were the kids on the sideline.

“But we’ve seen them come through to playing now with us and they’ve gone on to the national level.”

Stampede petered out at the end of this season with two losses against eventual champions Canterbury Red Devils, leaving them second to bottom of the league.

“We were all a little bit disappointed with the way it ended up,” Glass says.

“It was an exciting season in many ways – the games were still really good and the fans saw good hockey.”

Glass won’t give up the sport completely.

“I’ll have some involvement with Stampede, go down and help with the training when I’m around.

“I’ll play some hockey for fun but not for the Stampede any more. I always wanted to stop while I was still competitive.”

Glass will contest the 2013 Skate of Origin this Saturday, representing South Island as they take on North Island for the Glass Shield – which was named after his family.